Connect with us

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Catley penalty gives Kerr-less Australia winning start

Published

on

Co-hosts Australia laboured initially in the absence of injured captain Sam Kerr but a second-half penalty from Steph Catley got them off to a solid start at the Women’s World Cup with a 1-0 win over Ireland in Group B on Thursday.

The news that striker Kerr had been ruled out by a calf injury stunned the record crowd of 75,784 as it filtered into Stadium Australia but Catley stepped up to take the captain’s armband and score the decisive goal in the 52nd minute.

Ireland, cheered on by a noisy band of compatriots, made life difficult for the Australians with their compact defence and came close to forcing an equaliser during a period of sustained pressure late in the second half.

“It’s incredible to get the win, I think this is the longest buildup to a game in my entire life,” Catley told reporters.

“Losing a player like Sam, probably the best player in the world and her as a person, obviously we were heartbroken. We had to use her spirit … to help us push on. She’s so, so important, she’s our spiritual leader.”

Advertisement

After a moment’s silence for the victims of the morning’s shooting in Auckland, the game opened as had been expected with Ireland getting plenty of bodies behind the ball and challenging Australia to try to break them down.

The Matildas were successful in using their pace on the flanks to get behind the Irish defence but the massed ranks of green shirts managed to deal with the subsequent crosses into the box.

It was from the set piece that the hosts looked most likely to score and winger Hayley Raso had the first attempt on goal from a 28th minute corner only to flash her header wide.

The second shot on goal came just before halftime but Katrina Gorry’s long-range effort was easily gathered by Courtney Brosnan in the Ireland goal.

‘ONE MISTAKE’

Australia came out with more intent after the break and the half was only seven minutes old when Kyra Cooney-Cross sent the ball looping into the box and Ireland forward Marissa Sheva shoved Raso to the ground.

Advertisement

Catley gave Brosnan no chance with the penalty, striking the ball with her left foot firmly into the top corner of the Ireland net.

The penalty appeared to ease the Australian nerves and Mary Fowler, who had replaced Kerr up front, almost immediately stormed forward and lashed a shot high over the bar.

Australia striker Caitlin Foord headed the ball across the face of goal in the 68th minute but that presaged Ireland’s best period of the game as they launched wave after wave of attacks.

Megan Connolly came close with a free kick in stoppage time which whipped just over the angle of the post and crossbar to give the Australians in the crowd a mighty fright.

The Irish continued to pour forward in search of an equaliser and Katie McCabe forced Australia goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold into a save before Louise Quinn headed the ball just past the post in the dying seconds.

Advertisement

Australia, however, held on to make a winning start to a tournament in which they feel they can be genuine contenders after wins over England, Spain and France this year.

“It’s very disappointing, we said at halftime this was a game that would be decided by one mistake, them or us,” Ireland coach Vera Pauw told RTE.

“Sam Kerr is one of the top strikers in the world, her not playing was of course an advantage, but they have a powerful team and it was very difficult to play against them.”

-Reuters

FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 – Group B – Australia v Republic of Ireland – Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia – July 20, 2023 Australia’s Steph Catley celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

Advertisement

 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Dominican Republic 2024:Flamingos land in the Dominican Republic!

Published

on

Nigeria’s U17 girls, Flamingos, have secured their ticket to the 8th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals to be staged in the Dominican Republic later this year, after a 2-0 defeat of their Liberian counterparts at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Friday.

Victory took the aggregate tally to 6-1 in favour of Nigeria, with extraordinary poacher Harmony Chidi setting a record of 13 goals in a qualifying series that will be difficult to equal in years to come. She had 11 goals before kick-off, but netted the two goals of the evening to take Nigeria’s total of the series to a whopping 25. Central African Republic fell by a dozen goals while Burkina Faso fell 1-7 on aggregate.

Her first came after only four minutes when she sped past the Liberian defence to toe-poke the ball beyond the flailing arms of goalkeeper Makula Konneh from a cross by Shakirat Moshood.

A goal feast was expected, but this did not happen, as Peace Effiong had a close call in the 17th and Moshood rocked the crossbar a minute after from 20 yards. Moshood also missed from close range with 10 minutes left of the first half.

In the 56th minute, Moshood blasted beyond the goalpost when faced with Konneh, but Harmony Chidi made sure of her brace seven minutes later when she lashed the ball beyond Konneh’s reach as Nigeria seized the ball from a defensive slip-up by the visitors.

Advertisement

The 8th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals will be staged in the cities of Santiago de los Caballeros and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, 16th October – 3rd November.

Continue Reading

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

‘It shall be showers of goals’, vows Flamingos ahead of Liberia clash

Published

on

Head Coach Bankole Olowookere is confident that the Nigeria U17 girls, Flamingos, will not take their feet off the pedal when they take on their Liberian counterparts in a FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup final qualifying match in Abuja on Friday.

“We are battle-ready for the match on Friday. The girls are raring to go because they want to go to the World Cup. They are already dreaming of flying to the Dominican Republic.

“There is so much excitement in camp, and they are self-assured. However, I have warned them that it is never over until it is over. There should be no display of over-confidence on the pitch. We must approach the match like the first leg was a drawn game.”

Nigeria won the first leg 4-1 in Monrovia on Sunday, with 11-goal qualifying series revelation Harmony Chidi, Shakirat Moshood, Peace Effiong and substitute Blessing Ifitezue banging in the goals for the Flamingos. The hosts got their consolation goal off a penalty awarded with five minutes left of the encounter at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville.

The Flamingos will take part in the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup for the seventh time once they cross Friday’s hurdle.

Advertisement

They featured at the inaugural edition in New Zealand in 2008, and subsequently at Trinidad and Tobago 2010, Azerbaijan 2012, Costa Rica 2014, Jordan 2016 and India 2022, where they won the bronze medals.  

Continue Reading

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Flamingos hammer hosts Liberia 4-1, put one leg in World Cup finals

Published

on

FIFA World Cup bronze medallists Nigeria routed Liberia 4-1 in a fast-paced FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup final qualifying round, first leg encounter in Monrovia on Sunday.

The Flamingos got off to a pretty quick start at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex at the Paynesville, but the Liberian girls, who shocked Senegal on the away-goal rule to reach this final round, warded off the early threats.

Nigeria got the ball into the net after 14 minutes, but Chadian referee Lare Lamngar ruled it off. Not to be deterred or discouraged, the Flamingos poured forward once again, and in the 19th minute, Shakirat Moshood opened the scoring from a sweet solo run.

Peace Effiong, who got a brace in the 6-0 defeat of Burkina Faso at the MKO Abiola National Stadium last month, scored in the 29th minute to put a wedge of respect between the two teams.

Usual suspect Harmony Chidi, scorer of six of the 12 goals that sank the Central African Republic, and who equally netted four in the 7-1 dismissal of Burkina Faso in the last round, headed home her 11th goal of the qualifying series in the 36th minute to put daylight between both teams.

Advertisement

On resumption, Nigeria continued to dominate, and substitute Blessing Ifitezue made it four with 16 minutes left.

Liberia scored a consolation goal with five minutes left, from the penalty spot, through Yassah Gwaikolo, after substitute Onyedikachi Ekezie was adjudged to have committed a foul in the area.

The Flamingos will return to Nigeria on Tuesday, and immediately commence preparations for the return leg encounter scheduled for Friday at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.

Continue Reading

Most Viewed